Are You a Gymnast or a Runner?

Honestly, I’m relieved that the Olympics are over.

While I love it when Olympic time rolls around, about 10 days in I get Olympic overload, where I just reach a critical mass and cannot handle any more drama. And no event inspires this feeling more than gymnastics.

I have such a love/hate relationship with Olympic gymnastics. On the one hand, it can be the highlight of the 2 week event. The athleticism exhibited in this sport is unparalleled. It’s truly an amazing spectacle that I enjoy every 4 years.

On the other hand, after watching for a few nights I always wonder if I can take any more of it. Even though there are unbelievable feats being performed, the entire event has a negative vibe surrounding it. The announcers only seem to point out what’s wrong with each performance.

To be fair, that’s simply the way the sport is set up. Each competitor goes out there with a number that represents the best they can achieve and the judges mark points off for each mistake. Most often the errors committed go completely unnoticed by the audience, but the announcers are kind enough to point them out for us.

The entire event is an exercise in avoiding mistakes.

This stands in stark contrast to my favorite – the races. I don’t care if it’s on the track or in the pool, I love the races. These events feature athletes not just competing against each other, but the clock. It’s not about avoiding mistakes, but achieving the most that you can. Often competitors celebrate racing to their personal bests. Or in the case of someone like Oscar Pistorius, we celebrate the simple fact that he ran.

I think I often approach my life more like a gymnast than a runner.

I go about my day just hoping not to screw up too badly. Maybe it’s because I’m so aware of my own faults, but it seems that if I can make it to the end with just some small deductions, then I’ve succeeded. It’s a pretty fearful way to live, honestly.

But our lives are about more than avoiding mistakes. The apostle Paul thought we should be more like runners:

“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24 (The Message)

No runner runs a perfect race. There are mistakes made even by the winner. The ones who achieve are the ones who aren’t concentrated on the mistakes, but discipline themselves, train and run with a purpose. Because even if they fall, they can get back up and run again. The competition isn’t over.

It’s a life of hope and joy instead of fear.

So do you live like a gymnast or a runner?

My prayer for you today is that you will not focus on your faults (the rest of us don’t notice most of them, anyway!). May you see the goal in front of you and run the race of your day with hope and purpose. Because even if you fall down, you can get back up.

May you live today like a runner and not a gymnast.

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